Mikel Arteta on whether Shkodran Mustafi will leave Arsenal in January
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that German center-back Shkodran Mustafi will not be leaving the club this month as he is needed to cover the first team.
Mustafi has been limited to just three Premier League appearances this season – a total of 43 minutes – so it was widely expected that the 28-year-old would be dispatched to some extent with Barcelona inclined to push for Mustafi’s signing in ready.
However, Arsenal have already loaned William Saliba to Nice and are expected to allow Sokratis Papastathopoulos to leave the club in the coming weeks as well, so Arteta has no plans to reduce his center-back squad further.
“His future right now is here,” Arteta said (via Sky Sports News). “I’m trying to help. We have Papa who will probably be leaving the club in that window, William who has already been on loan, so we don’t have that many at the moment.
“Gabriel has been away for some time, David [Luiz] was injured, so the situation is completely different from before. “
Arteta was then asked to defend the need to keep five center-backs on the pounds (six if you include injured Calum Chambers). Rob Holding and Pablo Mari are currently shining for the Gunners, but Arteta was adamant that Mustafi could still have opportunities before the end of the season.
“Musti came back from a very difficult injury when he was injured at the end of last season,” he added. “Until that period I think he was doing very well, I think his performances were increasing and improving more and more.
“When he came back it was a time when we had seven or eight center-backs, so he had to improve his level of performance. I think physically he still needed time, then he started playing a few matches in Europe, which I think he did well too.
“And now it’s about when to take the next step to be a starter, and the reality is we have to change for different reasons, use different staff.
“He’s been really close in a few games, but now we’ve also found a partnership that gives us clean sheets and sometimes when you do that it’s hard to change, but he’s still in contention.”
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